Tuesday’s two-minute video – An owl calls

We’ve heard this screeching, or what I called squawking, in the mornings and evenings close to our house. It sounds like there are actually two birds. I looked up bird calls online. The closest sound I could find to what our birds were making was that of a barn owl that you can listen to here.

Up until this weekend, we were never able to see the creature that was making the racket. Then Sunday morning our daughter, who was visiting for the weekend, said that she and her friends saw its silhouette perched high in a tree when they returned to our house late Saturday night. Mark and I decided to sit outside Sunday at dusk and watch for it. We could hear it, but never saw it. (Video is 23 seconds.)

Then Monday, I got lucky. The owl was out in the daytime. I could hear it behind our house. When I stepped out onto the deck, it swooped down and flew along the creek bed at the base of our yard. I could only see the back of it, and still didn’t know what it was. I ran in the house and got my video camera, hoping to be able to catch it on film.

In the video, it is perched just to the left of the center. A large limb runs from the bottom to the top near the middle. A smaller limb behind it crosses on the diagonal. The owl is in the visual “V” made by the two limbs. If you watch closely, you can see it turn its head. About halfway through the movie, I zoom out, you will hear a door slam, and shortly afterwards, the owl turns around and flies away. You can see it more clearly if you go to full-screen. (The video is 1:43.)

I could distinctly hear not one, but two of these birds calling back and forth.

Here’s where the real wonder happened. I got my DSLR with its telephoto lens, and went outside to try to catch a still shot of the owl, hoping if I enlarged it on my computer screen I would be able to see it more clearly and identify it. As I was standing in the grass near my house, clicking away on my camera, the second bird landed on a branch within my camera viewfinder. I kept clicking. (Click on the photo to enlarge.)

Two juvenile great horned owls. November 14, 2011. West Chester, Ohio.

Barn owls do not have little tufts on their heads. With the sound from the video, and the photograph, I think I got to the bottom of the owl’s identity last night. Visit this page, scroll down to the great horned owl, and listen to the nocturnal shriek of an owlet.

Two juvenile great horned owls. Who knew? We had heard the distinctive call of adult great horned owls in the past. So we know they’re in the area. They must have had babies. Pretty cool.


For more bird photos, see my bird page under the wildlife tab above.

22 thoughts on “Tuesday’s two-minute video – An owl calls”

  1. I LOVE THIS POST!!!!! Those owls are incredible and I’m quite envious. Nice post, Christine! I love it especially in regard to my post today — about crows. I just found out that owls are the primary predator (aside from humans) of crows! Nonetheless I love your post and won’t hold that against these amazing animals.

    1. I’ve been like obsessed to see these birds. I was so excited when I put my photograph on my computer.

      I’m not crazy about crows. I’ll have to check out your post.

  2. Oh my, Christine. This is a fabulous post! What a discovery – and wonderful photos/videos. Those are definitely great-horned owls (so gorgeous). We have a pair that gives birth each year back behind the train trestle, and we’ve photographed the owlets. We also had a barn owl give birth to three babies up near our cattle gate (wow… you should hear them when they are small … they sound like hissing rattlesnakes and are SO noisy at night). I also have had the exciting experience of hearing owls call back and forth to one another. In fact, I taped it for use on a future blog. You’ve inspired me ;-).

    But living where you live, with the forest in your back yard, and the glorious sounds of ALL those birds must be heavenly. I LOVE it. And I confess to being a bit jealous. Enjoy!

    1. Glad to see you back out and about, Melissa. Hope you accomplished what you set out to do. Thanks for the confirmation on the great-horned owls. They are beautiful. Sounds like you don’t have anything to be jealous about.

  3. Everything terrific — the identification, the video capture, and the voice-overs (do owls get union rates?) and the wonderful still photo of the two of them —
    Real WOW post.

  4. You are so lucky to have been able to get these on film and video. Great job! We have heard owls calling back and forth to each other like this as well. We have assumed that it was a parent “calling in” a juvenile. Like a game of “marco” “polo”.

    Maybe you will be able to follow where the youngsters settle for their child-rearing.

    1. I don’t know. It’s been hard to sight them. We heard an adult great horned owl a lot of times and were never able to see it.

      Right now I’m just hoping they stick around, and that I haven’t scared them off with my camera. 🙂

  5. A lovely post, Christine!

    I have a memory of an owl. Jen and I were living in St. George, Utah, that desert corner near Arizona–for four long hot years (but it was good for a wheelchair). One day an owl sat all day in a tree right outside our small condo. Wish I’d had a digital camera then to catch it, but I didn’t. They are truly interesting creatures.

    I just saw the comment you made on my post about my getting my novella up on Smashwords. I think I just got it up, again, on Kindle (after deleting the old version and starting over). I struggled for about an hour reading through all kinds of directions, but then I just went by my instincts (it’s called trial and error!). I took the manuscript I formatted for Smashwords, and changed the paragraph indents to .5 (I had .25 for Smashwords) …. and in the Amazon preview the paragraph indent showed up!!! So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I should know tomorrow if it worked!!

    I already knew not to use fancy fonts. Keep It Simple was what I read…and that is really what works for the eReaders!

    1. That’s too funny about the owl in the tree. The digital camera world has really blossomed.

      I hope your Kindle ebook looks great.

      I read it about the fonts too, but when you have a graphic designer for a daughter, sometimes you have to be a little flexible. 🙂 Thank goodness for her and her help.

  6. Great catch on Video and Photo Christine… love Owls… I used to see more when I was a child when I lived in my village than I do where I live today…
    I do see lots of Sparrow Hawks though around us.. not good news for the voles or the sparrows .. But I do love to see the hawks..

    1. I know! I couldn’t believe my good fortune.

      We see quite a few hawks here too, although I don’t know exactly what kind they are. I guess I should figure that out. Big birds of any kind are quite impressive.

  7. We just found your blog! 🙂 WOW!! Eric and I have been wondering what kind of owl(s) those were! Have never seen them–amazing picture! 🙂 We hear them every night!
    –Your neighbors!!! (Lisa & Eric!)

    1. What a nice surprise to find you here. We hear it or them every night. (Usually I think there is only one.) I saw it in the day about a week or two ago. It must have been in the tree close to our house. I went out on the deck to take a photo of the leaves changing and I saw it move from that tree into the woods. I got a few pictures, but none that came out clearly. I’m fascinated by them.

      The day I got this shot of the two of them was really exciting. They were in a tree between our two yards, down in that little valley.

      Did you see my red fox picture? Or the infant deer?


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